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In-season 'Hard Knocks' to chronicle AFC North

The AFC North will be featured on the in-season edition of HBO's "Hard Knocks" TV series this season.



In-season 'Hard Knocks' to chronicle AFC North
In-season 'Hard Knocks' to chronicle AFC North
The AFC North is ready for its close-up.

The division best known for heated rivalries and star quarterbacks will be featured on the in-season edition of HBO's "Hard Knocks" TV series this season. It's the first time the Emmy Award-winning series has chronicled an entire division.

Last season, the AFC North's four teams -- the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers -- all finished with winning records.

With quarterbacks Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson, who was traded from the Denver Broncos to Pittsburgh in the offseason, there are plenty of storylines in the North along with a reputation for tight, testy games.

"Hard Knocks: In Season with the AFC North" will debut Dec. 3 and run through the rest of the regular season and playoffs.

Last season, the AFC North became the first division to have every team finish with a winning record since the 1935 Western Division. The Ravens, Steelers, Browns and Bengals combined for a record of 43-25 last season, which was the highest win percentage (.632) of any division in 2023. No other division combined for more than 35 wins last year.

"We don't think -- we know -- this is the best division in football," Bengals coach Zac Taylor said in a statement. "I understand why it's an attractive pick for 'Hard Knocks' and it's an honor to be part of a division that people think so highly of. We have an exciting team with a lot of really talented players and good team guys. They are players that the league is excited about, so this exposure is a positive."

Jackson is coming off a second MVP win but came up short of a first Super Bowl trip. Burrow played just 10 games last season before undergoing wrist surgery. Watson is entering a make-or-break third season in Cleveland, and Wilson is hoping to restart his career with Justin Fields in his shadow.

The Ravens were the first team featured on the original "Hard Knocks" in 2001. The Bengals' training camp was featured in 2009 and 2013, and the Browns' camp in 2018.

This will be the Steelers' first appearance on the popular show that takes fans deep inside the locker room, huddle and inner workings of NFL teams.

On "The Adam Jones Podcast" earlier this month, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he does not watch "Hard Knocks."

"Everything's put on," Harbaugh said. "You got to put a microphone and a camera in your face, people aren't the same. If they want to bring 'Hard Knocks' in here, it wouldn't bother me one bit, just because I know what I'd tell our guys is, 'All right, here's what we're going to do. We're going to just be us. We're going to say what we say. We're going to do what we do. We're going to handle it the way we handle it because we've got nothing to be ashamed of.'"

Harbaugh added that his team would not "put on a show" for anyone and made the point that the Ravens would have "final editing power" on the show.

The series has expanded to highlight the league's offseason, training camp, regular season and postseason. The New York Giants' offseason will be the first chronicled, and the Chicago Bears will be featured in training camp as they try to break in rookie quarterback Caleb Williams, the No. 1 pick in this year's draft.

ESPN's Jamison Hensley and The Associated Press contributed to this report.